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RA has effectively destroyed my life

My RA story begins a little over two years ago I would say probably around January 2013 when following a training session at the gym i noticed a sudden onset of searing pain in my left shoulder that came on so strong it left my nauseated and dizzy. I chalked it up to me not using proper form while exercising, swallowed a couple of Advil and forgot about it. Although I was still lifting following this episode i would get “flares” in different places every so often weeks apart. following the shoulder then came my hips. I remember limping on valentines day February 14th limping to visit my girlfriend at that time (now my ex) at her job.

I googled my symptoms and when I read about rheumatoid arthritis it horrified me and i stupidly lived in denial for the next couple of months (if only I had started aggressive treatment right away it might have went away). Advil was pretty good at relieving the inflammation and I would pop advil, take my pre workout and lifted weights. Fast forward to May 2013, a new personal training company came to my gym and I applied to become a trainer. I loved every minute of it, i was doing what i loved, had a gorgeous girlfriend and looked to be in really good shape. Little did i know my own body was destroying itself on the inside. Popping advil before a workout or lifting session became the norm, I was still in denial and felt like if I built enough muscle i would get better. I also added in mega doses of fish oils and glucosamine chondroiten.

Finnaly in August the pain in my knees and hips became so bad that i had to go to the emergency room.They gave me cortico-steroids and the attending told me that I should see a rheumatologist because this looks like RA. I felt like I had been given a death sentence. So a week later i go to see a rheumatologist and he orders blood work. came up positive for Rheumatoid factors. I was initially put on Enbrel in August 2013 and after three months of just getting worse I was switched to Humira for another 2 months. No results from Humira either after two months and just gave up . I fell into depression and stopped caring about myself, I loved my body and I worked hard to get where i was, I felt that it was unfair. I would curse god, the universe who ever I could to blame for my circumstances. I had suicidal thought every single day and cry myself to sleep. I even blamed my dad for his shitty genes he gave me. During those dark months I would self medicate with prednisone, and advil and marijuana.

Eventually my dad insisted that I go see another rheumatologist and maybe a more aggressive treatment would work. My rheumatologist put me on subq methotrexate and subq orencia and doxepin for sleep and depression. Although I am nearly 45% better I don’t feel like its enough.

My knees are completely wrecked they look swollen and pudgy all the time and click back and forth and painfully snap and grind on each other, i miss lifting heavy weight and still suffer from depression. Its painful to even look at my diseased and rotten body. My hands already have erosion in them and my elbows and shoulder snaps as well. I can’t keep a job because of these flares (I have had 3 different jobs this past year). All the research says that men go into remission faster is b*******. I spend all my time researching anything and everything that might reverse it enough just so I can lift weights again….that is all I really want.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Bilal Khalid author
    4 years ago

    hey kelly,

    thanks for replying. i have been taking orencia subq since about may of 2014 and methotrexate about the same time, switched to subq for the last two months. i have also been on prednisone 5mg a day for the past two years since i was initially diagnosed. i have tried time and time again to eliminate the prednisone but more than a day without it results in an immediate flare.

    I have read countless times of patients acheiving remission through a gluten, and dairy free diet, more specifically this article

    I am contemplating on starting such diet to see if it has any effect and also maybe switching to actemra. i have tried enbrel for two months without success, as well as humira, orencia is the third biologic drug and i do not feel that it has given me adequate response even though i have been on it for a period of 6 months now.

  • Kelly Mack moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Bilal,

    I can relate on the prednisone! Try as I might, I have to keep taking a a small dose. I have to admit, I wish it didn’t have the bad side effects because when I’m high doses I feel so much better! Hope the meds keep working for you.

    Some RA patients do find relief with different diets. I tried vegan for awhile, but didn’t find it changed my RA. Everyone is different, so my feeling is that it can’t hurt to try different things in consultation with your doc (to make sure whatever diet doesn’t interfere with meds or cause other problems). Here’s a link to some more info on diet, nutrition and good/bad foods for RA:

    I think working with your doc on trying different medication combinations is a good idea. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the right combo.

    I also found it helpful to try alternative treatments (in consultation with my doctor) like massage and acupuncture. Massage really helps my joints to feel better.

    Keep us posted on how you’re doing and if you have any questions. Best, Kelly

  • Kelly Mack moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Bilal, thanks for sharing your story. Very sorry to hear about your joint pain and struggles with RA. It can be a really shocking and painful disease, attacking aggressively and suddenly. It’s a really good sign that you’re starting to feel better with the medications. How long have you been taking them? It can take awhile before they reach full effect, but it is really hard to be patient. When I started methotrexate it took weeks for me to feel an improvement and when I started Enbrel it took months. Keep plugging away and feel free to ask questions and get support here. It’s also really common for us folks with RA to experience depression, so its important to get the support you need. I totally understand how you want to get back to your exercise and training. You may find you have to work up to it gradually, but exercise can help with RA. A good way to start may be to talk with your doctor or visit a physical therapist to begin a program that’s gentle on your joints. Hope all these thoughts help. We’re thinking of you. Best, Kelly

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